The graduate medical degree was introduced to combat the shortage of doctors and to give those who didn't opt for a first degree in medicine the chance to become a doctor. The course covers the same information as an undergraduate medical degree but there is a difference in the way it is taught.
Qualifications and skills needed
To apply for the fast-track medical degree, some courses require a 2.1 or a first in a biological science degree. Others offer places to those in a non-science degree, although they may have other requirements for these candidates (such as science A levels at certain grades). Relevant work experience may also be expected.
In addition to the right class of degree, some universities will require you to sit an entrance exam. There are three types of entrance exam: the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test), the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) and the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test), used by seven medical schools.
These exams test problem solving, data analysis, critical thinking and communication skills. In addition, the GAMSAT examines reasoning in biological and physical sciences. Candidates would need to study science independently in order to do well in this section.
Through your personal statement and during your interview, you should also show admissions tutors your awareness of the qualities required to be a good doctor. These are:
- good intellectual ability, problem solving and critical skills with an understanding of lifelong learning
- honesty, integrity and conscientiousness
- helpfulness and a willingness to co-operate
- interpersonal skills, empathy, reflectiveness and an awareness of your own limitations
- ability to deal with stress
- attitudes necessary for good medical practice and patient care, such as not being judgmental, cultural awareness and sensitivity to life-cycle stages.
Advice for prospective candidates
Applicants over the age of 35 need to seriously consider the implications of embarking on such a demanding career. It takes a minimum of nine to ten years to complete training in any specialty and some specialties may be reluctant to allow a late starter to begin specialist training.
Even if you have a scientific background, you should study hard for the entrance exam and not take your knowledge for granted – in the GAMSAT, non-science graduates often do better because they put more effort into revising for it.